Final OT

Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series tied 1-1

Game 1: Thursday, February 28th
Blue Jackets3
Game 2: Monday, March 11th
Blue Jackets4Final

Penguins 4

(23-27-4, 56 pts)

Blue Jackets 3

(15-34-3, 41 pts)

7:00 PM ET, February 28, 2002

Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

1 2 3 OT T
PIT 1 0 2 14
CBJ 1 2 0 03

A. Kovalev (Penguins - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

M. Sillinger (Blue Jackets - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

M. Rozsival (Penguins - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Pens rally to edge Jackets in overtime

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't find out until after their 4-3 overtime win over Columbus on Thursday night that they wouldn't have Mario Lemieux again this season.

Michal Rozsival won it in overtime after Alexei Morozov jammed in a loose puck with 31.2 seconds left in regulation as the Penguins came back.

But the loss of Lemieux cast a pall over the Penguins.

"He's out for the season," said Jan Hrdina, who had three assists. "We have to put it behind us and try and play our best."

Earlier in the day, Lemieux announced he would not be returning for the Penguins this season due to chronic pain from a hip injury.

Alexei Kovalev had a goal and an assist and Randy Robitaille added two assists for the Penguins, who ended an eight-game winless streak (0-5-1-2).

"We've played a lot of the season without him," Pittsburgh coach Rick Kehoe said. "For some guys, they've adjusted. For other guys, they're still looking at him as being the guy who's going to save us."

Kehoe said management decided not to tell the team about Lemieux's announcement until after the game.

The Penguins are also once again without Martin Straka. Straka missed 47 games with a broken leg and was accidentally hit in the left eye by teammate Johan Hedberg during Wednesday night's 5-4 loss to Los Angeles. Straka broke a bone around the eye and is out indefinitely.

Columbus' Ron Tugnutt made several acrobatic stops and it appeared the Blue Jackets might escape with a win until a Penguins rush in the final minute of regulation.

Robitaille blew past several defenders to fire the puck at the net with goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin off the ice. Tugnutt made two saves and was prone when Morozov muscled the puck through him.

"Right now it feels great after this win," Morozov said. "It's a really good two points on the road and we're in a fight for the playoffs."

In the overtime, Hrdina outmaneuvered a defender on the left wing and dumped a perfect setup pass through the crease to Rozsival for his fifth goal of the season.

"The most important thing is that we got these two points," Rozsival said. "Maybe it'll be a little lift for us to come back at the end of the game and then win it in overtime."

Mike Sillinger had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, winless in their last seven games (0-4-1-2) at home.

Columbus rookie Rostislav Klesla poked in a rebound of Ray Whitney's one-timer for a 1-0 lead. Just 17 seconds later, Kovalev picked up his 22nd goal when he faked a wraparound and drilled a slap shot that trickled between the skates of Tugnutt.

Robert Kron made it 2-1 just 39 seconds into the second period. Espen Knutsen set up the score with a nifty cross-ice pass to Geoff Sanderson at the left post, with Sanderson deflecting the puck back into the slot for Kron to convert his fourth goal of the season.

The Blue Jackets went up 3-1 when Sillinger skated in front of an errant Pittsburgh pass at the center logo and scored high over Aubin on the breakaway. It was Sillinger's 15th goal.

The Penguins drew to 3-2 early in the third on Robert Lang's 22nd goal off a drop pass in the slot from Kovalev, setting up the wild finish.

"We just seem to find ways to lose close games," Columbus coach Dave King said.

Game notes

Pittsburgh RW Eric Meloche became the first Ohio State product ever to play against the Blue Jackets in Columbus. ... The sellout was Columbus' 48th in a row. ... The Penguins are 3-0-0-0 against the Blue Jackets.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press